Having visited the Sunshine Coast many times now, both with kids and without, we have discovered that there is an absolute plethora of things to do on the Sunshine Coast.
When you think of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast three things generally come to mind – sun, sand and surf. In fact, if you told me you had spent a week there and barely left the beach I would not judge you at all. The pristine beaches, paired with (almost) year round sunshine would have to be the main draw card for tourists, surfers and beach-bums alike. One of our favourite beaches is Kings Beach in Caloundra which is at the southern end of the Sunshine Coast. Only a short walk from Caloundra CBD, Kings Beach is a fantastic patrolled surf beach lined with apartment blocks, cafès and playgrounds. Another of our favourites is Mooloolaba Beach. Adjacent to the trendy main street, boasting many chic shops, cafès and eateries, the beach is great for kids with the southern end being protected by a breakwater. Continuing further north from Mooloolaba all the way up to Noosa Heads, a further 40km stretch of pristine, sandy surf-coast will leave you spoiled for choice.
2. Australia Zoo
What can I say? Everyone should visit Australia Zoo at least once in their lives. Famously known as the ‘Home of the Crocodile Hunter’, Australia Zoo is not just a zoo, but also a wildlife sanctuary dedicated to the protection and preservation of many endangered Australian native animals. Set out over 100 acres (40 ha), Australia Zoo houses over 1200 animals. Here you can see (and sometimes even pat or hold) a wide variety of Australian native animals including koalas, kangaroos, wombats and so much more. Australia Zoo is also home to several animals from Africa and South East Asia, including the only giraffes and zebras in Queensland. The daily shows are a must see, especially the crocosseum show with the very entertaining and energetic wildlife warriors getting up (very) close and personal to some pretty fierce crocs.
From art and craft markets to farmers markets, you won’t struggle to find a market to visit on any weekend on the Sunshine Coast. Our two favourites are the Eumundi Market and the Caloundra Street Fair.
The Eumundi Market is Australia’s biggest art, craft and produce market and is held every Wednesday and Saturday. This market has everything and more. Original artwork, unique craft, homewares and everything in between. There are buskers and performers, fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, cheese and an amazing variety of street food stalls. It’s no wonder people tell me this is their favourite market of all time!
Every Sunday Caloundra’s main street (Bulcock Street) is closed to traffic and turned into a buzzing market with over 200 stalls selling everything from art and craft to fresh produce and street food. There is often a jumping castle and face paint for the kids and some fantastic buskers and performers. And best of all, when you’ve finished with the stalls you can continue shopping or stop for a coffee in the many shops and cafès lining the street
4. Glasshouse Mountains
A short drive from the beach, in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, you will find the Glasshouse Mountains, a collection of 11 mountains named in 1770 by Captain James Cook who found that the mountains reminded him of the glass furnaces from his home town of Yorkshire, England. These unusually shaped peaks are actually volcanic plugs formed by lava over 25 million years ago. The scenery is spectacular and you can easily spend the day exploring the area and the many little towns at the foot of the mountains. Several of the mountains, our favourite being Mount Ngungun, are perfect for bushwalking and climbing with breathtaking views of the Sunshine Coast from the top.
5. Montville & Maleney
Two quaint and charming towns in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, Montville and Maleney are not to be missed. Both popular with tourists, they boast picturesque main streets lined with shops, galleries and eateries.
A picture postcard town, Montville, with it’s unique European architecture, is full of charm and bustling with galleries, studios, cafes, restaurants, antiques, gift and specialty shops. This, paired with spectacular panoramic views of the coast, is why Montville is known as the soul of the Sunshine Coast.
With a strong focus on local art and produce, Maleney has more of a hip and sophisticated vibe. The main street is lined with a cosmopolitan mix of galleries, organic shops and eateries and cafes boasting some top local produce. Malaney is also home to Maleney Cheese – a boutique cheese and yoghurt factory selling a delicious variety of high quality products.
6. Underwater World Sea Life Aquarium
Queensland’s largest aquarium, Underwater World is home to over 10,000 marine creatures and freshwater animals. Offering 16 themed zones and a variety of daily shows, Underwater World is a fantastic day out for kids. Get up close to over 20 species of sharks and sting-rays in the ocean walk-through tunnel and learn all about marine life with the many interactive, informative displays throughout the aquarium. The seal show is not to be missed and for those with a bit of a wild side, for an additional cost, you can don some diving gear and come face-to-face with the sharks, rays and other creatures.
Possibly the most popular tourist region on the Sunshine Coast, Noosa plays host to over 2 million visitors a year. A coastal stretch of golden beaches and beautiful national parks, teamed with boutique shops and fine dining restaurants, Noosa is considered somewhat of a luxury holiday destination. That is not to say however that Noosa is not for everyone as there is just as much to please the budget conscious traveller as anyone else. The beaches are pristine, the national parks stunning, and the famous Hastings Street is a buzzing, yet laid back, hive of activity.